January 6, 2022 (by Bjorn Claes) - Just before noon today the Norwegian Air Force marked a significant milestone. After reaching IOC status back on 6 November 2019, today marked another milestone with the startup of the QRA assignment from Evenes AB in the north of the country.
RNoAF F-35 #5503 to be assigned to 332 skv is coming in for landing at Ørland AB on August 11th, 2021 on its delivery flight. [RNoAF photo]
has been steadily working on tranforming its air force to conduct operations with the F-35 over the past years. This event marks the final transition from the F-16 to the F-35 with the first ending 42 years of operations for the RNoAF
. In the past the QRA
assignment with the F-16s was conducted from Bodø AB roughly 300km more to the south. With the arrival of the F-35 it was decided to base all these aircraft at Ørland AB with a QRA detachment not in Bodø AB but further to the north at Evenes AB to better counter Russian aircraft flying around the north of Scandinavia.
In the coming years more F-35s will be delivered with the full complement of 52 jets being ready in 2024 whereas FOC will be reached in 2025 with all operations to be conducted with the F-35. This does not mean the F-16 will soldier on till then. The Norwegian
staff has already decided that the F-16s swannsong will be somewhere in 2022 with an exact date still to be decided on. But that the end of the F-16 era is drawing to a close fast is certain. This also marks a special event as Norway will be the first of the original F-16 consortium to phase out this jet.